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Kew Cottages Coalition Reg # A0044698H

Coalition's Historic
Heritage Victory

Herald Sun 
Front Page Story
Wed 24th November 2004

Listen to ABC Radio Jon Faine 
Brian Walsh 

the Public Advocate 

Listen to 3AW Neil Mitchell
Brian Walsh 

MP3 Audio:  use WinAmp on a PC, or Quicktime or similar on a Macintosh  to listen in real time. Otherwise, eg: if you have a slow dialup connection,  download the file first (~900kB), and then use any MP3 player to listen.) 

Tue 23rd November 2004

Heritage Council 
Approves Listing
Kew Cottages 

Kew Cottages Coalition Media Release 

Current and Historical views of Kew Cottages and Grounds 




Survey of Council Candidates
To help Boroondara voters  we surveyed existing Councillors and new Candidates 
about the Bracks Government's plan to sell off
Kew Cottages.

How many attempted our questions ? 

3 out of 10 existing Councillors  (Answers..)
13 out of 37 new candidates. (Answers..)

Kew Cottages Coalition recommendations on shire elections 
(in no particular order):

Brad Miles 
Luke Tobin 

Leon Zembekis 
Ray Walford 
Joburt Betadam 

Meredith Butler 

Kerry Abrahams 

No recommendation 

Dennis Whelan 
Geoff Guest 
Peter Campbell 

Peter Papaemmanouil 

Stan Stapar 
Frank Jockel 
Mary Halikas-Byrnes 

Brian Walsh

November 2004

Kew Cottages

1. Who owns and controls Kew Cottages ? 

The State Government owns Kew Cottages, and until November 2003, Boroondara Council, as the relevant local government body for Kew, was the 'Responsible Planning Authority' for the Cottages.

Until May 2000  the Crown Land was permanently reserved under the Kew and Heidelberg Lands Act, but the Bracks Government continued the policy of the previous Kennett Government in extending the sell off of public lands, and in downgraded the Cottages Crown land reservation status from "permanent" to "temporary".

Historically, the first local government body in the region was the Boroondara District Road Board, formed in 1854 and incorporating the areas which were to become Hawthorn, Kew and Camberwell (More..) 

The Willsmere Mental Asylum was built on a large permanent reservation of Crown land stretching  from the Yarra River all the way  up Emerald Hill to Wills and Princess Street, Kew between 1868 and 1872. It is a notable Melbourne landmark.

Kew Cottages itself was built within the grounds of WIllsmere in 1887 to provide more appropriate accommodation for intellectually disabled children. The Asylum and the Cottages shared a common administration until the 1970's.

The Cottages were incorporated into Studley Ward in 1994, when the Kennett Government amalgamated the Kew, Hawthorn, and Camberwell Councils to form Boroondara Council. 

The State Government's Department of Human Services (DHS)  renamed its Kew Cottages administration body "Kew Residential Services" when the Government set out to sell the land to private developers.

The State Government's Minister for Planning, Mary Delahunty, formerly stripped Boroondara Council of its role as the "Responsible Planning Authority" for Kew Cottages on Remembrance Day (11th November) 2003. 

The State Government is now in the embarrassing position of not only being the owner of Kew Cottages, but also both the developer, and the "Responsible Planning Authority". 

November 2004

Boroondara Council Elections 
Studley Ward.

A. Is voting compulsory ? 

Yes for all persons on the Boroondara Council electoral role except those who are over seventy years old; or do not live in the ward.

Residents should receive their ballot papers in the post by Monday 15th November. 

Voters are required to complete and post back their ballot papers by 26th November. Alternatively votes can be hand delivered to the Returning Officer at one of the following locations:

- 25 Inglesby Road, Camberwell Vic 3124
- Hawthorn Office, 360 Burwood Rd Hawthorn
- Kew Office Cnr Cotham Rd and Civic Dve

until 6pm on Friday 26 November 2004

Telephone the Returning Officer on 9813 3748, 8:30am - 5pm Monday to Friday. 

or click here:
Victorian Electoral Commission Website

B. Who are the Candidates in Studley Ward 
(1 vacancy) 

SMITH, Cindee Anne 
HEALEY, Phillip 
WALSH, Brian * 
VOCE, Judith 
JONES, Christopher Lloyd 
OH, Ros 

 *Brian Walsh is the endorsed candidate of the 
Kew Cottages Coalition.

2. Will the Cottages be Kew's First Casualty of Melbourne 2030 ?

a) What did the Mayor of Boroondara say to Neil Mitchell on 3AW in August  2003 ?

MP3 Audio: Cr. Judith Voce interview, Neil Mitchell show 3AW 5th August 2003 (2MB file - use WinAmp on a PC, or Quicktime or similar on a Macintosh  to listen in real time. Otherwise, eg: if you have a slow dialup connection,  download the file first, and then use any MP3 player to listen.) 


b) What did  the Government say  in March 2004 ? (More..)


c). What is the Kew Cottages Coalition's view in November 2004? 

To state "the obvious", we believe the development will only go ahead, besides anything else, if  it makes commercial sense for both a developer and the Government to proceed. Given the recent problems the State Government has faced both at Docklands, and elsewhere we do not think they will get such an easy deal from potential developers as they might have expected in 2001 when Bracks made his initial announcement on Kew Cottages. Times have changed. Melbourne 2030 has changed. There is now too much uncertainty about the difficulties a developer will face with Kew Cottages for them to easily quantify the nature and extent of the risks involved. We believe any developer will, therefore, seek  significant undertakings from Government to help them offset that commercial risk. However, the political cost to Government of making such undertakings may ultimately not justify the benefit. 

If you are a resident in Studley Ward we ask you to vote for Brian Walsh in the current Council elections to help carry that message to Government.

3. When will the first residents be moved from their current home ? 
Some residents have already been moved to accommodation in other suburbs. A number of units at the Cottages have already been closed, and fenced off.

C. Do you live in Studley Ward ?

If you live in Kew, or in Hawthorn west of Church Street, there is a good chance you are a Studley resident. The Ward's longest boundary is the Yarra River. To enter the Ward from the South, the East, and the North, one must either cross a bridge, get a boat, fly, or swim the Yarra. The Ward's only dry land border is the eastern border which it shares with Glenferrie Ward, Cotham Ward, and Bellevue Ward.

D. Election issues in Studley Ward ?

We believe the Kew Cottages issue has demonstrated that, no doubt despite the best of intentions, the old Council totally lost the plot on:

- Planning for Kew residents needs;
- Planning for Kew residential areas;
- Planning for Kew urban green space;
- Planning for Kew's heritage;
- Planning for Kew's infrastructure;
- Planning for Kew's traffic.

As a consequence Kew and Hawthorn are both now open to further exploitation and loss of amenity through:

- inappropriate development;
- loss of neighbourhood character;
- loss of green space and public open space;
- loss of heritage sites;
- traffic congestion;
- lack of parking options for shops and businesses;
- inadequate public transport services.

E. What is Brian Walsh's 3 point plan ? 

If elected :

1. I will work with you to Promote:

- a more caring community;
- a Council with a conscience;
- a Council that values ALL of its residents, ALL of its green space, and ALL of its heritage.


2. I will Fight to help you say:

- NO to Bracks Melbourne 2030 High Rise;
- NO to dangerous traffic and roads.
- YES to a Centre of Excellence at Kew Cottages.

In Studley Ward that initially means: 

3. We will focus on:

- Helping  Council to deliver better forms of community consultation based on my experience with the  Kew Cottages issue;

- Building strong alliances to fight Melbourne 2030

- Improving road safety by completing the on road bicycle network;

- Testing creative approaches to support better parking,  public transport, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic options for shopping centres such as Kew Junction.

November 2004

F. Has Boroondara Council ever had any real power to control development at Kew Cottages ? 


Inappropriate development is never inevitable ! 

Numerous examples exist around Australia where inappropriate development has been stopped because local communities cared enough to challenge the electoral mandates of those Government authorities rash enough to try and back the power of the developer's bulldozer against the black death of the ballot box.

In August 2003 when Boroondara Council gave the 'green light' to bulldozing Kew Cottages radio talk back lines were jammed with protesters; 2000 people rang Melbourne's largest selling daily paper, the Herald Sun, in one day to vote "NO" to the sell off, and the paper was running a Kew Cottages story every day for over a week.
The Bracks Government spin doctors went into overdrive to try and counter the negative publicity. 

Council had tremendous power at that that stage, to help firmly set the political agenda against inappropriate development - not only at Kew Cottages - but throughout Boroondara. Yet, Council simply failed to exercise that power.

Now, one year later, following a metropolitan  wide backlash against the threat of "Melbourne 2030" high rise development, Boroondara Council has another chance to climb back into the ring on Kew Cottages. The next few months will be crucial in determining just what the "New" Boroondara Council will have learnt from the mistakes of the "Old".


4. When are the first buildings due to be demolished ? Kew Cottages Coalition and residents have nominated the Cottages for Heritage listing.We understand Heritage Victoria has been advised by Major Projects that no works will be undertaken pending a final decision of the Heritage Council on the nomination.
5. When are the first apartments due to go on sale "off the plan" 

This has been left up to the selected developer to determine. No contracts have yet been signed. In March 2004 the Government said: It is not a requirement that the overall residential redevelopment of the site should be completed by late 2006 unless this is the wish of the selected developer. (More..)

6. When is  the first construction scheduled to begin ? "..Work is expected to start on site in early 2005," according to Minister for Community Services, Ms Sherryl Garbutt. The Government told potential developers in March 2004 that:"It is intended that the 20 new homes for existing residents be completed on a staged basis with progressive handover to DHS during the 9 to 12 months leading up to mid 2006, by which date all 20 houses are to be completed." (More..)
7. .Did Boroondara Council make available any traffic studies ? No, none were made public.  However, The Council said it recognised the Wills/Princess Street roundabout was dangerous, that it could not accommodate more traffic from Kew Cottages, and should be further investigated.
8.  Did the Minister accept that her new plan raised serious traffic safety issues? No,  the Minister's  new plan appears to completely ignore the Council warning about the dangers posed by the Wills/Princess St roundabout.
9.  Does the Minister claim that her new plan provides for lower building heights ? Yes. The DHS website claims:" A maximum building height of five storeys, down from the seven storeys proposed in the original draft plan" (More..)
10. What is wrong with the Bracks Government's claim on height reduction in the new plan ? It is at best  half truth. To be charitable it is simply mischievous. To be critical it is fundamentally misleading. The facts are that whereas both Boroondara Council and the Minister for Planning each set a 'five story' height limit in their respective Spring 2003 plans (C38 and C53), the Minister  redefined 5 storeys to be equal to 17.5 metres high in her plan instead of the normally accepted 15 metres high. In other words the Minister in fact raised (not lowered the height limit set by Boroondara Council !

How is it "half-true" ? Well it is true that the "draft plan" prepared by Council Officers for Council to consider at its August 4th Meeting recommended a height limit of 7 storeys - ie: 21 metres. Council however, rejected that recommendation, and set the overall height limit at 5 storeys.

The Minister for Planning it would seem is keen to ensure that the devil remains in the detail.

11.  Will  the Yarra River skyline be affected ? Yes. The Government's  plan moved some of their redefined  5 storey buildings up the hill to the Yarra River skyline overlooking Studley Park, thus breaching the tree canopy vegetation. In the south-west corner of the grounds where the Council  plan proposed a height limit of 9 metres (3 storeys) the new Government plan now proposes a height limit of 17.5m (ie:5 'tall' storeys) - nearly twice as high !.
12.  Has the amount of public open space been reduced ? Yes from a minimum of 50% public open space in the Council plan down to 27.5% in the Government plan.
13.  Do residents have right of appeal to VCAT ? No. Normally that would be the case. But nothing with regard to Kew Cottages planning it would appear is "normal'. Third-party appeal rights were withdrawn without notice on 11th November 2003 by the Minister for Planning, Mary Delahunty.
14. Is the Government tender process public ? No. The Government's tender documentation has been kept secret. An announcement regarding a preferred tenderer and development plan is expected shortly. At that time Boroondara Council expects to be given 28 days in which to comment and make submissions on the detailed Development Plan.
 The Diary...
The story so far....

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Reg # A0044698H